Los Angeles Times - 04.03.2020

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International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach, right, of Germany attends the committee’s
executive board meeting in Lausanne, Switzerland, on Tuesday. Olympic leaders said they were confident
that the coronavirus outbreak would not force the cancellation of the 2020 Tokyo Games, set to begin July

  1. But half a world away, Japan’s Olympic minister said the contract to hold the Tokyo Games specifies
    only that the event has to be held during 2020, so they could be held later in the year if needed. SPORTS, D

1,000 WORDS: LAUSANNE, Switzerland

Laurent GillieronAssociated Press


For the first
time since
1968, Demo-
crats could
end their
with no candi-
date taking
the majority
of delegates
needed to win the nomina-
tion on the first ballot at
their national convention
this summer.
That has prompted
feverish speculation about a
brokered convention, a
fantasy long cherished by
overexcited political report-
But there’s a more likely
scenario that’s been over-
looked: a bare-knuckle bat-
tle for delegates in June and
July, well before the Milwau-
kee convention starts.
Call it the Overtime
Primary — or, if you prefer,
the Unattached Delegate
Primary. If it happens, it
could be decisive not only
for the nomination, but for
the party’s fortunes in the
November election as well.
Under party rules, the
convention’s first ballot is
decided solely by the 3,
delegates chosen by prima-
ries and caucuses. To win, a
candidate needs a majority
of those delegates — at least
1, 9 91.
But what if, when the
primaries end, none of the
candidates has enough?
Imagine, for example, that
Bernie Sanders has 45%,
Joe Biden has 40% and
other candidates split the
That’s when the Over-
time Primary kicks in. Even
before the convention opens
on July 13, candidates are

free to woo each others’
delegates. And delegates
are free to switch, especially
if the candidate they origi-
nally supported has
dropped out of the race.
“From June until the
opening of the convention,
it’s going to be a madhouse,”
Elaine Kamarck, a former
aide to Bill Clinton and a
member of the party’s rules
committee, told me.
“The candidates will call
delegates. They’ll call any-
body who might influence
delegates. They’ll cut deals
with labor unions, because
union delegates might
follow their leaders. They’ll
do whatever they can think
of,” she predicted — includ-
ing perhaps dangling a vice
presidential nomination.
That’s called politics.
But it’s an old-fashioned
brand of politics most of us
have never seen in real time.
If the top candidate is
very close to a majority, he
or she can probably get over
the top pretty easily. If
Sanders or Biden wins 48%
of the delegates in the pri-
maries, for example, it
shouldn’t be hard to get to
“But if nobody’s close,
you could see a lot of horse-
trading,” she told me.
If you listen closely, can-
didates already are honing
their arguments for the
Overtime Primary — the
pitches they’ll make to
delegates who might be
Biden warns that a
Sanders nomination could
hurt Democrats’ chances in
congressional, gubernatori-
al and state legislative races
— the so-called down-ballot
“I can win in places
where I don’t think Bernie
can win,” he said. “I can

bring along Democratic
victories up and down the
Sanders, by contrast,
argues that whoever wins
the most delegates, even if
he doesn’t reach a majority,
should be the presumptive
“The will of the people
should prevail,” he said.
That’s the opposite of the
argument Sanders made in
2016, when Hillary Clinton
was in first place and he
trailed in second.
It’s also not what the
party rules say. The rules,
which Sanders helped draft
in 2018, say the nominee
needs a majority, not just a
plurality, of delegates.
“Forty percent at the end
of the day is not enough,”
Tom Perez, chairman of the
Democratic National Com-
mittee, said last month.
If the candidate with the
most primary votes doesn’t
win the nomination, Sand-
ers warned last week, “That
would be a very divisive
moment for the Democratic
That’s obviously true;
any hard-fought outcome
will be divisive. But it also
sounds a little like a threat.
In 2016, when Sanders
finished behind Clinton in
both votes and delegates,
Sanders’s campaign man-
ager denounced the process
as “rigged,” and many of his
delegates walked out of the
convention in Philadelphia.
This time, if Biden comes
in second in primary votes
but then cobbles together a
majority of delegates, Sand-
ers supporters will under-
standably be furious again.
And that’s only the first
ballot. It gets worse.
If the first ballot doesn’t
produce a nominee, the
party’s 775 so-called super-

delegates, elected politi-
cians and party leaders, are
allowed to vote in later
The addition of the su-
perdelegates would prob-
ably hurt Sanders’ chances,
since most of them are more
moderate than he is.
Cue another walkout.
“If Bernie loses, even if he
loses fair and square, his
people will blame the party,”
Kamarck said. “They’re
doing it already.”
None of these scenarios
look appetizing to Demo-
crats who hope to unite for a
tough campaign against
President Trump. The
president is doing his best
to stoke the division, warn-
ing that Democratic leaders
are trying to steal the nomi-
nation from Sanders.
History suggests that
parties that come out of
their conventions deeply
divided often do badly in the
general election campaign
that follows.
So it’s going to matter
how the process looks:
whether it’s transparent.
Whether the winner is gra-
cious in victory, and the
loser accepts the outcome
without recriminations. If
deals are to be cut, better to
cut them in the open, not a
smoky backroom.
The Democratic conven-
tion won’t be contested,
strictly speaking, if one of
the candidates assembles a
majority one way or another
before the delegates arrive
in Milwaukee.
But it’s almost certain to
be angry and divisive — no
matter who wins. It could be
great political theater too.
That’s all good news for

McManus’ column appears
on Sunday and Wednesday.


JOE BIDENand Bernie Sanders in an L.A. debate in December. The race may end in a brokered convention.

Brian van der BrugLos Angeles Times

If nobody wins a majority

We may see a brutal fight for unattached Democratic delegates

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